“What happens if you violate probation for the first time?” This is a common, important question that is frequently asked of our Ventura probation violation lawyers. The answer depends on the nature of the violation, and is at the discretion of the judge, which is why it is so important to be represented by an attorney at your probation revocation hearing. Continue reading to learn more about the consequences of violating your probation for the first time in California.

First-Time Probation Violation Penalties in California

Even a first-time probation violation can lead to tough consequences under California law. The exact penalties you will face depend on the nature and severity of the violation. For instance, a minor violation may be penalized with mandatory community service or similar conditions, while a more serious violation is more likely to result in consequences up to and including total revocation of your probation. A few examples of the potential penalties for a first-time violation of probation in California are listed below.

  • Mandatory Community Service – For a lesser violation, the judge might impose new or additional terms for mandatory community service. This is one of the lightest penalties that can result from a probation violation in Ventura or Santa Barbara County.
  • Mandatory Counseling – Depending on the nature of your violation, the judge may order you to undergo mandatory counseling for anger management. A related potential penalty could be…
  • Mandatory Treatment – You could also be ordered to undergo court-ordered treatment for substance abuse, like an addiction to drugs or alcohol, if that is a factor in your case. For example, this penalty may be imposed if your probation officer finds drugs or alcohol in your residence. Probation officers are assigned to supervise offenders on felony probation, which is also called “formal” probation in California.
  • Extension of Probation – Formal (felony) probation generally ranges from three to five years in duration. Misdemeanor probation, which is also called “informal” probation or “summary” probation in California, is typically shorter at one to three years. However, in some cases, summary probation may last as long as five years, like formal probation. In either case, the judge may decide that it is appropriate to extend your probation period.
  • Additional Conditions of Probation – When a person is placed on probation, he or she generally stays out of jail or prison (though probation may potentially be sentenced in addition to jail or prison time). However, the probationer must comply with certain rules and requirements, or “conditions of probation” throughout the probation period. If you are found to have broken these rules, the judge may respond by adding more conditions of probation, and/or making the existing conditions stricter. Examples of conditions of probation include:
    • Avoiding alcohol and drug use.
    • Complying with a protective order (restraining order).
    • Getting a job.
    • Getting permission before leaving Ventura County, Santa Barbara County, or California.
    • Refraining from owning a firearm.
    • Reporting to public works and/or community service projects.
    • Reporting to your probation officer as directed.
    • Submitting to drug tests.
  • Revocation of Probation – If the violation is particularly serious – for example, committing a new criminal offense – the judge may revoke (take away) your probation. This is the most serious consequence for violating probation, and can have two outcomes:
    1. The judge might revoke your probation and impose the sentence that you were originally facing. There are different sentences for each crime in California, but many felonies are punishable by a sentence of either 16 months, two years, or three years.
    2. Alternately, the judge might revoke your probation and impose the maximum sentence possible, even if you were not originally sentenced to the maximum prison term. To continue with the example above, the judge could sentence you to three years in prison for a felony – or more, depending on the offense.

Ventura Probation Violation Lawyers Can Represent You at Your Revocation Hearing

If you or someone you love was recently accused of violating probation, it is critically important to hire an experienced Ventura criminal defense attorney to represent you at your probation revocation hearing, particularly because the “standard of proof” – or in other words, what the state needs to prove – is much lower than the standard used at criminal trials.

Effective legal representation can make the difference between keeping your freedom and going to prison. Make sure that your case is in capable hands. At The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC, our probation violation lawyers have over 22 years of legal experience handling misdemeanor and felony cases, and provide representation for probationers throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. For a confidential, free legal consultation about a probation violation charge in California, contact our law offices at (805) 643-5555 to find out how we can help.